ARTBITS by Richard B. Harper

VOLUME 20 * * All Arts News On the Web * * April 21, 2016


      ArtBits always features a calendar of the goings on of Franklin County artists. Check out these events around Franklin County. Each issue includes the entire text of our weekly newspaper column.

     Franklin County's arts and music gatherings bring new opportunities, gossip, "show-and-tell" and occasional workshops. There are also booked and acoustic Open Mic Nights that feature music, readings, and more from the best new artists in Vermont.

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       "We're going Vermont-centric for the 50th," Andre Maquera said. "We'll try to keep it as close to home." Run by Andre Maquera of West Street Digital, the Supercharged Main Street Stage will showcase the best local entertainers for an international audience of about 50,000.
      From the winners of the acoustic performer contest until the Supercharged close, the 50th edition of the Maple Festival this weekend brings a new schedule and a bucketful of new events for the first (and sweetest) outdoor festival of the year. It happens in downtown St. Albans.
      A free shuttle bus will run every 15 minutes from the Collins-Perley parking lot to the Antique show, Craft Show, Exhibit Hall, and Taylor Park on Saturday only.

      The Maple Festival Parade -- the biggest in Vermont -- starts on Sunday right at noon. Remember the new route. The parade stretches for miles up Stebbins Street, over Main Street, and down Lower Newton Street with over 100 marching bands, fancy floats, bag pipers, clowns, dancers, fire trucks horses and tractors new and old, musicians, neat cars, probably the odd politician or two hundred, scouts, and the ever-popular pooper scooper will walk up Lake Street, over Main Street, and down Lower Newton Street.

50th ARTS
      The Maple Festival photo contest theme is Maple Sugaring. Entries will be on view at the Village Frame Shoppe all weekend.
      Chainsaw Art? A new show with Mark LeClair includes live demonstrations in Taylor Park all weekend.
      The annual Crafts and Specialty Foods Show in BFA Auditorium offers artwork and fine photographs, glittery bling, classy clothing, wooden sculptures, traditional and nouveau crafts, and fine Vermont specialty foods. More than 60 vendors will have traditional as well as craft innovations. This Show is one of the Festival's popular face-painting locations. Admission is free. Friday noon - 5 p.m., Saturday 10 a.m. - 5 p.m., and Sunday 10 a.m. - 4 p.m. A free shuttle bus on Saturday makes deliveries right to the door.
      A sampling of the exhibitors includes Vermont author J.P. Choquette; plus Gail Derner with copper wall art; Richard Lang's wooden bowls; Larry Langlais and Barb Langevin of Highgate with art from recycled items; and Catherine Tretler's hand painted glass; and much more. Be sure to stop in for Vikki Machia's fudge.

50th MUSIC
      Only three of the indoor entertainment events (and the banquet) charge admission. Everything else is free. The Youth Talent Show continues in the exceptional MVU theater tomorrow evening at 7 p.m. The Bucky Lewis Comedy Show takes over the BFA Performing Arts Center tomorrow evening at 7 p.m. The Fiddlers Variety Show (fiddling is the Sound of Vermont) comes to the BFA Performing Arts Center on Saturday at 7 p.m. Tickets for these shows will be available at the festival office at the exhibit hall in the BFA Cafeteria or at the door before each show.
      The Main Street Stage begins a weekend of continuous free entertainment tomorrow at noon and runs through Sunday after the parade. Look for live Music and Dance from noon - 6 p.m.
      The Main Street Stage is free! Visit for more info about the shows.

      Acoustic duo Chris & Erica start the afternoon off on Main Street. They won the 14th Star acoustic performer contest and have opened for Jamie Lee at Higher Ground. Free. 1 - 2 p.m.
      Then the Keeghan Nolan Band lights up the street for the afternoon. The singer-songwriter and country rocker has opened for David Allan Coe, Craig Morgan, John Michael Montgomery, Chris Young, and Bucky Covington, played Rusty Dewees' Holiday Variety Show, shared the stage with Randy Smith and Jamie Lee, and wowed the Summer Sounds audience. Free. 3 - 5 p.m.
      Speaking of Mr. Thurston, Nashville headliner and Vermont's own All American country singer/songwriter Jamie Lee himself and his band returns to the Maple Festival to round out the day. He has recorded under contract with View 2, Warner Brothers, Country Thunder, and Snakebit. He'll play a continuous set 6 - 8 p.m. Free.
      The Youth Talent Show will fill the MVU Theater on Friday evening at 7 p.m. This annual favorite brings together some of the most talented children in the County competing for scholarship prizes. Talent show admission is $7 for adults and $5 for students.
      The Maple Festival Comedy Show with Bucky Lewis brings an axe and a Stihl Farm Boss and perhaps the only ear flaps you will see this weekend (we can hope, anyway) to the BFA Performing Arts Center on Friday at 8 p.m. This is an adult show for those 16 and up. Admission is $8 for adults and $5 for students.

      After the pancake breakfast, the Electric Youth Dance Company takes over Main Street again. This talented group of dancers in several age groups learn the fun and discipline of dance in St. Albans. Free. 10 a.m.
      Next up, Rockin' Ron The Friendly Pirate performs pirate music for kids and kids at heart. Free. 11:15-12:15 p.m.
      The Contois School of Music Band will light the stage. Free. 12:45-2:15 p.m.
      Winners from the Youth Talent Show will perform on the Main Street stage at 2:30 p.m.
      Prydein brings its bagpipe rock to close out Main Street. It is said they dreamed everyone attending would wear kilts at the Maple Fest. Free. 4 - 6 p.m.
      The Fiddlers' Variety Show, an annual sellout at BFA PAC, has hours and hours and hours (and hours) of Canadian and American singers, dancers, pickers, comedy, and clogging all starting at 7 p.m. Fiddlers' show admission is $7 (or less than two pennies per minute of music).

      After the Pancake breakfast, singer-songwriter Steve Hartmann does a solo acoustic set at 11 a.m.
      Carol Ann Jones & The Superchargers' take on rockabilly, country, rock, bluegrass, and contemporary originals will keep you on Main Street long after the snow melts. Special guest guitarist Jim Pitman of the Stone Cold Roosters and the Ground Hog Opry, will help take the stage up another notch. 2-4 p.m.
      Click here for more info.


SWANTON--The Swanton Arts Council presents another in the Artists Uncorked series, a paint & sip style event, with artist Jon Young at the My-T-Fine Restaurant this evening at 6:30 p.m. Call (802.733.7471) or email to sign up. Pre-registration is required and space is limited.

ENOSBURG--The Opera House at Enosburg Falls hosts A Quartet of Crafts on Saturday at 1-4 p.m. The afternoon of sipping and crafting offers four different crafting workshops with a chance to earn new skills and bring home handmade crafts.
      Admission is $40 which covers supplies, wine, and snacks.


ST. ALBANS--The St. Albans Community Arts Ballroom Dance Lessons and Community Dance series concludes in the Bliss Room at the St. Albans Historical Museum on Monday. The final lesson will begin at 6 p.m. and the Community Dance from 7 - 9 p.m.
      The Community Dance costs $5 per person or $8 per couple. Call (802.578.4716) or email to register.


SOUTH HERO--The Blue Paddle Bistro presents Carol Ann Jones in a solo show this evening at 6:30 p.m.
      "It fills up fast," Ms. Jones said. Call ahead (802.372.4814) for reservations.

ESSEX JUNCTION--On Tap at the Lincoln Inn presents Summer Sounds favorite Jenni Johnson and Friends this evening at 7 p.m.
      Live music continues On Tap every evening. Call 802.878.3309 or email for more info.

ST. ALBANS--Twiggs has a duet weekend planned for Maple Festival evenings. A&M rocks the Dining Room on Friday and Chris Parker and Erica Mae Couture take over the front window on Saturday. Both shows start at 7 p.m.
      Aaron Bachelder on guitar and Melinda Lussier on piano will play a mix of classic rock to modern tunes as well as a growing number of originals. Mr. Parker and Ms. Couture return to Twiggs with a guitar and two big voices.
      Call 802.524.1405 or click here for more info.


      ArtBits features a quick weekly peek at the bookshelf or night stand of the folks you know in and around Franklin County. That popular feature has a page of its own at the Franklin County Bookshelf here on the AAC site.


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      This article was originally published in the St Albans Messenger and other traditional print media. It is Copyright © 2016 by Richard B. Harper. All rights reserved. Archival material is provided as-is. Links are not necessarily maintained (if a link in this article fails, try or your favorite search engine).
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